I remember my mother first stoke, we were sat in her bedroom at the old peoples home. She gave a small sigh and then asked if her mother was going to come and see her. Now given her mother died in 1943 and would have made her 125 years old I thought it a bit odd! The doctor came and she was whisked off to the RUH in Bath.
I remember going to see her and was met by the doctor who said she was worried about my mother as she kept going on about the war and Margaret Thatcher. I reassured her that that was normal.
As the days went passed, she hart several other strokes, I soon realised that actually her brain was functioning ok, it was her words that just came out wrong.
I was he sister June (died 1973), my brother was her Uncle Cyril (died 1990) and my wife, Madeleine, was some woman I have never heard of called Maude!
One day she asked me to tell Ava Gardner that she couldn’t play bridge on Wednesday. Joining in, I said that Clarke Gable could make it either. ‘Don’t be an idiot,’ she reported and I thought, ah, she’s not that daft afterall all , ‘He plays on Friday.’ Hmm, Perhaps not.
The staff at the hospital were superb, one day a young Chinese girl came in to change her bedding. Mother was talking about Maude at the time. Rather nonchalantly, mother looked at the girt and said ‘Chicken chow-mein and egg fried rice please,’ and then carried on as normal.
Having now had a stoke, what I did realise is that everyone on the ward could probably be think as clearly as ever, but their word and limbs failed them in explaining the detail. Every face I looked at seemed to be telling me a story that their body couldn’t articulate, how frustrating.
Towards the end of my mothers life as she slipped away, I’m sure she knew exactly who I was, as her eyes conveyed every sinew of emotion that they could carry. As her eyes closed, all she had left was the grip hat she had on my hand which again, almost seemed to convey all the emotions that she could muster in her final moments. I knew she has gone when the grip slipped away.
If you ever have contact with someone who has had a stoke, just believe that whatever they are telling you has meaning. That that names, dates and detail maybe wrong, but the thoughts are all theirs. Don’t be frustrated, that won’t help, don’t try and fill in the gaps, it will mean nothing to them. Just be your self and tell them what you would normally tell them, and remember, just because they cant speak, doesn’t men they cant hear.